Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fairly recently I used a beautiful painting of Fernando Vicente in order to illustrate (quite literally I have to say) my article about Deleuze’s concept of the body as a Desiring Machine. It turns out that this Spanish artist has a whole series of those painting that he calls Anatomias that represent sections within women’s bodies as seen as machines both erotic and frightening at the same time. It is very likely that there would be a feminist reading of this work, as much as the one of Zola further in this article; however, I won’t be the one doing it here.
It is actually interesting to notice that, when one would think of a machine as a de-sexualized entity, F. Vicente’s bodies are highly sexualized and thus literally embody successfully this concept of desiring machine, or the human body seen as a productive entity.

In his novel La Bete Humaine (1890), French XIXth century author Emile Zola accomplishes the opposite of F.Vicente’s bodies by describing all along his book a locomotive as a woman. Never this comparison would be as strong as when this same locomotive -that even has a female name “La Lison” is involved in an accident and “dies” from it as described in the following paragraph (that I did not find in English and I had to translate myself which is terrible when one knows how beautiful is Zola’s prose…sorry about that):

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The following video is a short interview of Jean-Luc Godard in 1972 after he released his movie Tout Va Bien. He explains his activist engagement as a movie director and author by comparing his approach to Marin Karmitz‘s. In fact, when the latter creates a movie at the same period directly with textile factory workers, Godard considers that this approach is delicate as the mean of communication used here (cinema) has been in the hands of the ones that those movies are fighting against.
Godard also blames the regime of private property that forbids him to film inside factories, the subway, in a museum (although he did in Band of Outsiders), in an airport etc.

Other posts about Godard:
Cinematic Catalysts: Contempt + Casa Malaparte by Danielle Willems
The Paradigm of Modern Cinema: The Cinematographic Introspection (Godard, Fellini, Truffaut, Assayas & Hansen-Love)
Godardian landscapes
Band of outsiders

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Modern Contemporary is a very beautiful monograph of Belgium artist Arne Quinze‘s work. This work, despite or thanks to its obvious influences like Kawamata, Basquiat, Matta Clark, Katsushika Hokusai (whose drawing is tattooed on A.Quinze’s back) etc. manages to find a real strength which probably find its source in the overwhelming energy spent by the artist. This book, published by German publisher Hatje Cantz, is an excellent collection of the translation of this energy on the various mediums that are objects, dioramas, paintings, installations, architectures etc.
Arne Quinze manages to always flirt with the dangerous “coolness” without seeming to fall for it and the aggressiveness of his work is intelligently balanced with the apparent fragility of his creations.

Previous articles about Arne Quinze:
The Sequence
My Home my House my Stilthouse & my Safe Garden
Contemplating the void / 50th anniversary of the NY Guggenheim

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cover image - danielle willems

Today starts a new episode of The Funambulist. From now on, if everything goes well, you should be able to read every week a 1500 words essay by a guest writer I have been asking to write exclusively for the blog.

The first author to achieve this assignment is Danielle Willems, who is a designer and producer currently living, working and teaching Architecture in New York. Her practice and academic works continuously test the thresholds between the moving image and architecture.
Her essay explores via the specific examples of the Casa Malaparte and Jean-Luc Godard‘s movie Le mépris (Contempt), the perception of architecture through the cinematographic lens: (more documents in the video at the end of the text)

The Funambulist Papers 01 /// Cinematic Catalysts: Contempt + Casa Malaparte

by Danielle Willems

There is no question that at this point in time the method in which we view the world is through the cinematic lens.  The way we move and perceive space, time and the landscape is most certainly through this lens.  How can this method be harnessed to become a methodology that is generative rather than just representational?  Can this method be developed through a narrative feeding back onto the form expanding and creating space and time around the sequence of events?  This case study of Casa Malaparte has its own interesting story as well as the many events and narratives that weave themselves through and around this space.  The film Le Mepris (Contempt) produced in 1963 is certainly one of Godard’s most seductive productions.  The main event or catalyzing moment between the two characters in the film is solidified through the formal performance of the architecture of Casa Malaparte.  This catalyzing moment will become the focus of this essay, and will attempt to investigate the series of memories surrounding and forming this exception house.

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After politics, music, psychoanalysis and literature, I wanted to conclude this “Deleuze week” with a short article about his vision of painting (for cinema, see the article about his lecture about the act of creation) through the work of Francis Bacon. Gilles Deleuze, indeed, interpreted the work of the Irish painter in a book entitled The Logic of Sensation published in 1981.

In this book, he describes how the lifetime work of Francis Bacon has been to paint the scream itself rather than the figure that makes the body scream. The body is therefore the continuous medium of work of Bacon. His paintings registers in what Deleuze calls the becoming animal, and each body in them expresses the pain in their meat that they suffer about (see previous article about Bacon and the meat).
This book also insists on the common mistake which is to consider that the painter always start from a white page. On the contrary, Deleuze argues that he starts with a dark page and the painting consists in the withdrawal of everything that is not fundamental to it (see previous article about this same book). He uses the example of Cezanne in order to illustrate how little each great painter manages to achieve but how precious is the result of a lifetime to struggle to truly understand and represent an element of life:

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This week could have been shared between Gilles Deleuze AND Felix Guattari as it is the third article in a row that I write about a book written by both of them. This one is about the book Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature published in 1986. In this essay, the two authors, thanks to Franz Kafka’s work attempt to create a manifesto for what they call a minor literature. Minor, here, is of course ambiguous as it can both means secondary or from the minority. One can definitely bet that this ambiguity was not disturbing them at all as they have always refused any form of transcendental judgment on a work and this way would have not mind to be considered to take care of a “secondary” discipline. However, the primary meaning of minor here is referring to their recurrent call for the expression of minor becoming as we have seen in the previous article entitled What is it to be “from the left”.

The three characteristics of minor literature are the deterritorialization of language, the connection of the individual to a political immediacy, and the collective assemblage of enunciation write Deleuze and Guattari in the same book. Kafka’s work develops those three conditions both in its contents as in its form, himself being part of minority within a minority (Jewish and Czech in a region part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). His writing, in German particularly registers in the following paragraph that concentrate the essence of the minor literature :

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illustration by Fernando Vicente

In 1972, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari publish the Anti-Oedipus (first volume of Capitalism and Schizophrenia before A Thousand Plateaus) which consisted in a frontal and very caustic criticism of psychoanalysis as it has been conceived by Freud and later by Lacan. Accusing psychoanalysts  to have the same relationship to their patient that priest have on their flock, Deleuze and Guattari -who was himself a student of Lacan- blame them for making the castration as an equivalent of the religious sin and for interpreting the unconscious as a theater. On the contrary the two French men, far from the dreams and fantasies as representation of the desire, invent a vision of the unconscious as a factory and the body as an assemblage of machines producing desire.

Those desiring machines are directly inspired by Antonin Artaud and his notion of bodies without organs but more expressively by William Burroughs and his Naked Lunch:

The physical changes were slow at first, then jumped forward in black klunks, falling through his slack tissue, washing away the human lines…In his place of total darkness mouth and eyes are one organ that leaps forward to snap with transparent teeth…but no organ is constant as regards either function or position…sex organs sprout anywhere…rectums open, defecate and close…the entire organism changes color and consistency in split-second adjustments…

Burroughs William. The Naked Lunch. Grove Press 

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picture extracted from Vollmond by Pina Bausch

The Ritournelle is a concept created by Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari for A Thousand Plateaus published in 1987. It is the subject of the 11th plateau which is entitled 1837: Of the refrain.  It has been translated in fact in English by refrain but, within the extent of my English knowledge, it seems to me that this translation does not fully unfold the same meaning. In the Abécédaire, Deleuze, as we will see below, use an onomatopoeia in order to explain this word: “Tra la la” as a kid would hum.
This concept is a territorial one as Deleuze states:

When do I do Tralala ? When do I hum? I hum in three various occasions. I hum when I go around my territory…and that I clean up my furniture with a radiophonic background…meaning when I am at home. I also hum when I am not at home and that I am trying to reach back my home…when the night is falling, anxiety time…I look for my way and I give myself some courage by singing tralala. I go toward home. And, I hum when I say “Farewell, I am leaving and in my heart I will bring…”. That’s popular music “Farewell, I am leaving and in my heart I will bring…”. That’s when I leave my place to go somewhere else.
In other words, the ritournelle (refrain), for me, is absolutely linked to the problem of territory, and of processes of entrance or exit of the territory, meaning to the problem of deterritorialization. I enter in my territory, I try, or I deterritorialize myself, meaning I leave my territory.

Abécédaire. Gilles Deleuze. produced and directed by Pierre-André Boutang

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picture of Deleuze, Sartre and Foucault in front of a prison in the frame of the GIP (see previous article)

As I wrote in the last article, the Abécédaire has never been translated into English (at least, as far as I know). Here is my small and clumsy contribution to such a gigantic work that would be. This is the end of the “chapter” G comme Gauche (L for Left) during which Gilles Deleuze defines what he think being from the left means in two parts. The second part is an explanation with very simple word of the concept of Becoming that he created with Felix Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus:

G comme Gauche

Claire Parnet: What is it to be “from the left” for you?

Gilles Deleuze: Well, I will tell you that there can’t be any government from the left. It doesn’t mean that there is no differences between governments. The best we can hope for is a government that would be in favor of some of the left’s requirements but a government from the left, that does not exist. So how to define what is it to be “from the left”, I would say it in two ways.
It’s firstly a problem of perception. A problem of perception that is to say what is it not be “from the left”. We can see that with the postal address. Not be from the left means starting with myself, my street, my city, my country, the other countries further and further. We start by us, and as we are privileged, we live in a rich country, we wonder how we can do to sustain in time this situation. We can feel that there are some dangers, that this situation can’t last too long. So we say “Oh but the Chinese are so far away, how can we do so that Europe can sustain itself in time etc.”
To be from the left is the opposite. It is to perceive, as it is said that Japanese people perceive. They don’t perceive like us, they primarily perceive the perimeter. They would say: The world, the Continent Europe, France, etc. etc. the rue Bizerte, Me. It is a phenomenon of perception. This way we first perceive the horizon.

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# DELEUZE /// Episode 2: AbécédaireJune 21, 2011

Philosophy - By: Léopold Lambert

Abécédaire is a 7h30 long interview of Gilles Deleuze achieved in 1988 by Claire Parnet, his former student and close friend and produced & directed by Pierre-André Boutang. This is, in my opinion, the most wonderful entrance door one could dream to start exploring Deleuze’s philosophy as his language in this video is much more simplified than the one he uses in his books (at least in most of his books).
This document is entitled Abécédaire as both C.Parnet and G.Deleuze exchange on a series of topics and problems that are proposed as one for each letter of the alphabet as following:

A as Animal
B as Boisson (Drink)
C as Culture
D as Désir (Desire)
E as Enfance (Childhood)
F as Fidélité (Fidelity)
G as Gauche (Left)
H as Histoire de la philosophie (History of Philosophy)
I as Idée (Idea)
J as Joie (Joy)
K as Kant
L as Littérature (Literature)
M as Maladie (Disease)
N as Neurologie (Neurology)
O as Opéra
P as Professeur (Professor)
Q as Question
R as Résistance
S as Style
T as Tennis
U as Un (One)
V as Voyage (Travel)
W as Ludwig Wittgenstein
X et Y as Inconnues (unknown)
Z as Zig-zag

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